Philosophy as a Humanistic Discipline
Princeton University Press, $64 hb, 393 pp
The Sense of the Past: Essays in the history of philosophy
Princeton University Press, $69 hb, 277 pp
Bernard Williams began his philosophical life as the enfant terrible of mainstream English philosophy. In 2003 he died its most eminent contemporary figure. Williams was White’s Professor of Moral Philosophy at Oxford from 1990 to 1996, and a professor at Berkeley from 1988 until his death. Both these books are collections of essays, nearly all published previously, but many not easily accessible. In addition to three general essays about classical Greek philosophy, The Sense of the Past has essays on Socrates, Plato and Aristotle; and then on Descartes, Hume, Henry Sidgwick, Nietzsche, R.G. Collingwood, and Wittgenstein. The essays in Philosophy as a Humanistic Discipline are collected under the headings of ‘Metaphysics and Epistemology’, ‘Ethics’, and ‘The Scope and Limits of Philosophy’. In both volumes, the essays range across Williams’s philosophical life, affording a picture both of his recurring preoccupations and of the evolution of his concerns.